This is me (on the right) and my sister in the early 1950's at Grandma's house in Oklahoma City. Yeah we're adorable but the meat of this photo is that little wooden thing behind us on the ground.That is a roller coaster that my Grandpa made for us in their backyard. The track started with an incline - probably 3 feet off the ground (dizzying to a 4 year old) - and then running along the length of the backyard - maybe 25 yards. You sat on that little wooden pallet and had the thrill of your life. I could ride that thing all day long.
Grandpa was kind of a sad man. He sold stationery at an office supply store and was never very happy. He suffered migraine like headaches and had glaucoma. He lived until his early 90's but the last 25 years of that were spent in a dementia that left him a broccoli. His only son was killed in France during World War II. His only daughter (my mother) was way too smart with way too smart a mouth and really did not respect him much.
BUT, he was a great great husband and a great great grandpa. We only got to see him when we visited for a week or so in the summer. So this fabulous roller coaster got built for kids that were rarely there. Even so when we were... oh what a time we had. He was such fun and a million laughs when he didn't have a headache.
He always wore a hat and took it off whenever he was inside and so left it everywhere we went. We knew whenever we were going from inside to out, to turn around and shout 'Grandpa! hat!!'
He's also the grandpa who taught me to love baseball. I remember his wonderful Grandpa smell even today as I type this low these many years later.